Today I was doing some lecture prep on John Evelyn — a writer with whom I am becoming a bit more familiar (he’s writing near the end of the early modern period, and certainly outside the scope of Jacobean drama, so is definitely not in my immediate research field). Out of curiousity I started poking around his works on EEBO and discovered just how much he wrote on plants: gardening almanacs, treatises and talks on tree planting and cultivation (including one work on which trees could clean the London air), works on edible plants.
There’s something really charming about almanacs and manual, bestiaries and miscellanies: I think it’s something to do with the combination of the everydayness of the knowledge presented and the variety included in such texts: we get to learn the everyday habits and opinions of people related to all aspects of fishing, or animals, or gardening and there’s something really fun about that. I loved reading Walton’s The Compleat Angler in comps year, and last year I read through Topsell’s History of Four-Footed Beasts just for fun. I think the next extra-curricular early modern text I’ll read is Evelyn’s Kalendrium Hortense, which in addition to displaying lots of interesting snapshots into the world of early modern gardening, is sort of adorably tiny.
1 June 2016
(Also, I find Evelyn’s advice to look after the bees incredibly poignant, given everything that’s going on, bee-wise, these days.)